Boycott message reaches Baaba Maal: please don’t play Israel’s PR game

Baab Maal WOMAD by Paul Hellyer

Baaba Maal  on stage during WOMAD 2016 (Picture credit: Paul Hellyer)                                                        

“I’ve been a fan of Baaba Maal for around a quarter century. The thought of him playing in apartheid Israel instead of showing solidarity with the Palestinian people makes no sense to me” – audience member at the WOMAD festival.

The campaign to persuade renowned Senegalese musician Baaba Maal to reconsider his decision to perform on September 20 in Occupied East Jerusalem made headway last week with his appearance at two music festivals in the UK and boycott calls spreading internationally.

Israeli citizens urged him to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people, addressing him in his own words: “I stand as one because I believe we all deserve to live in safety.”

The call was taken up in France at the same time as leaflets headlined “Baaba Maal: Don’t support apartheid Israel” were well-received by the crowd at Baaba’s gig at the WOMAD, Charlton Park, festival in southwest England on Saturday July 30. They were mentioned by Financial Times reviewer David Honigmann in his festival report.

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Israel’s war on Palestinian media – Why no protest from the UK government?

In March 2016, Israel continued its assault on Palestinian media organisations by closing down the TV station, Palestine Today, and arresting some of its staff. The British government, so vocal at other times in its defence of ‘democratic values’, responded only with silence.  The APUK collective sent this letter to the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, to request that he apply the principles that apparently underpin his government’s domestic policy, to relations with Britain’s allies overseas. We await a reply.

Israeli troops invading Palestinian radio station. Picture:Palestine News Network.

Israeli troops invading Palestinian radio station. Picture:Palestine News Network.

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Strategy of Silencing: What Britain does for its ally Israel

In its determination to assist Israel in silencing criticism, the British government betrays the values of freedom and tolerance that it claims to see as fundamental. This article, written by a member of the Artists for Palestine UK collective, charts the resulting pattern of attacks on the rights of Israel’s critics in Britain, from local councils to academics and arts organisations.

 

2016 began with ringing declarations about British liberty. David Cameron’s New Year message to the nation contrasted the freedom and tolerance of ‘our way of life’ with the ‘poisonous narrative of grievance and resentment’ laid out by ‘murderous extremists’, seething with hatred for the west.

These are claims that have come to sound more hollow with every month that passes. Domestically, the Prevent strategy operationalises the defence of ‘freedom’ with an apparatus of reporting and repression which extends across schools, universities and the NHS – some NHS trusts have made it mandatory for staff to attend Prevent workshops.  In its foreign policy, Cameron’s government holds firmly to alliances with states which are deeply committed to the oppression of the populations they rule over: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, to name only the most prominent. Turkey, a NATO member, uses airstrikes against its Kurdish population without reaction from the defenders of freedom. Saudi Arabia kills its opponents, and is met only with an expression of ‘disappointment’ from a British junior minister.

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Art is the velvet glove on Israel’s iron fist – Brian Eno in Apollo magazine

International art magazine Apollo devotes its December double-page  Forum discussion to the question, “Are artists justified in boycotting Israel?”

The debate can be viewed online here. We review it below.
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Finally Israel and Iran find common cause – against Daniel Barenboim: Artists for Palestine UK reaction

Daniel Barenboim, Israel and Iran: an APUK statement

Newspapers in Israel, the US and Europe reported last week that Daniel Barenboim, one of the world’s foremost pianists and conductors, was planning to take a Berlin orchestra [the Staatskapelle] to Iran for a concert. Immediately, Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev stepped in to call for the concert to be cancelled:

“This melody must be stopped. Barenboim promotes an anti-Israeli line and makes sure to bash [Israel] by using culture as a lever for his anti-Israel political views.” (1)

While the world was still digesting the hypocrisy of this demand from the minister of a government which, when threatened by boycott, never fails to talk the language of ‘communication’ and ‘bridge building’, Iranian officials said that they would block the concert because of Barenboim’s Israeli citizenship:

“The conductor of Germany’s symphonic orchestra is affiliated to Israel concerning his nationality and identity ,” the Spokesman of the Culture Ministry Hossein Noushabadi told reporters in Tehran. (2)

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I’m One Of 1000 UK Artists Boycotting Israel. Here’s Why

This thoughtful and informative piece by one of the 1,050 signatories to the Artists’  Pledge for Palestine first appeared on The Quietus.

Photo credit: Valerio Berdini

Photo credit: Valerio Berdini

As Thurston Moore, Miss Lauryn Hill and Primus become the latest to cancel shows in Tel Aviv, British-Palestinian musician Samir Eskanda makes the case for the boycott, with contributions from Moore and Jean-Hervé Peron of Faust.

In 2009, a couple of weeks after the end of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, dubbed “Operation: Cast Lead”, I decided to adopt the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel. The three-week assault, which served as the model for last summer’s rampage, was carried out on the pretext of ending erratic rocket fire from the besieged Gaza strip. In reality it represented an escalation of the daily violence committed by Israeli occupation forces against a relatively defenceless civilian population, themselves mostly refugees from previous rounds of aggression. Continue reading

Kamila Shamsie: Why I signed the artists’ pledge for Palestine

On Saturday 14 February, a 600 word piece was published in the Guardian Saturday Review by novelist and pledge signatory, Kamila Shamsie, which we reproduce in full here:

Kamila Shamsie 14.02.15It doesn’t take long in the West Bank and Jerusalem to work out that ‘apartheid’ is the only word that will do. It is present in the extensive infrastructure of military might, 3G phone coverage (not allowed to Palestinian mobile providers), and no-Arabs-permitted bus routes that cater to settlers in the West Bank whose presence there is illegal. It is present in the implementation of laws that make it virtually impossible for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to acquire residence permits for their spouses from the West Bank and Gaza. It is present in the security checkpoint in the middle of a once-busy market street in Hebron where Israeli guards inspect your paperwork to make sure you aren’t Palestinian – absolutely everyone else is allowed through. It is present, most starkly, in the Separation Wall. Continue reading